What is affordable housing? There are likely as many answers to the question as there are challenges surrounding housing affordability in the Atlanta region. Affordable housing is not a new or simple problem, yet it is a significant issue facing residents, businesses and elected officials across the country. Some counties and cities have adopted economic incentives and tax abatements to encourage development of housing that is affordable to households with varying income levels. Frequently, elected officials feel constrained by public opposition to apartments or smaller homes, and historic development patterns have not helped. Devoid of debate is the simple fact that metro Atlanta is growing, and people need places to live.

Affordable housing encompasses an intricate web of social, economic, political and legal issues. Often the “area median income” is used as a benchmark to determine the level of affordability. The Fulton County AMI published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is $67,500. Based on information from Bleakly Advisory Group, 52 percent of the workers in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett earn $40,000 or less. For households earning between 60 and 80 percent of AMI, rents ranging from $740 to $1,035 monthly range or a home purchase between $123,000 to $170,000 would be the upper limits.

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